My love of canals started when I was at uni in Birmingham in the early 1980s, and I walked most of the BCN because I couldn't afford a boat.
Several times I rented an Alvechurch boat with friends, but only in the winter months, and twice almost flooded the Lapworth flight. Many years passed living overseas - much of a lifetime - before I could buy my own boat, which I did in 2007. Endless engine problems and the difficulty in getting the boat fully fitted out restricted the cruising, but I still managed to get to the BCN Challenge every other year.
After five years of no contact with the canals at all after divorce left too much emotional baggage with the boat, I am now - mid 2019 - returning to my long-forgotten and now rather tatty boat that has lain unloved for that time.
In the 1980s, everyone liked everyone else on the canal. No one wrote bad things about others, because most of us made mistakes most of the time. Some of us made mistakes pretty much all of the time. These days, we seem quick to judge, quick to criticise, quick to anger and quickest of all to write our judgement online. Happiness seems to be long gone for many.